Black Drug


jj_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif valentin_icon.gif

Scene Title Black Drug
Synopsis A bird flies into the cage on its own accord and bearing a proposition.
Date February 18, 2011

Suresh Center

Outside, the light comes in queerly red from the filfthy forcefield, and burns this strange light up the unbroken windows of the Suresh Centre, eerie, yellow light tinted red like the passing of urine of someone with kidney problems. It's the light by which the struggling cafeteria-turned-soup kitchen feeds the denizens that remain resolute on the wrecked Roosevelt Island, clinging to the one stronghold of sanity left, with its roving security men on high alert.

Not high enough. The idea of the Dome denizens starving to death is still a far off but alarmingly looming monster to ponder on the horizon, but the food is rationed, controlled, and the remains of the PMCs aren't eating any better than anyone else. They've seen a lot of death, received orders from people outside who don't understand what it's like in here, been unable to protect the people they were meant to protect.

So it's little wonder that maybe a face manages to evade detection.

Michal Valentin is better known for his voice, anyway.

He doesn't talk to anyone as he steps foot on Suresh Centre turf, a scarf wrapped high to his chin against the dusky chill setting into the air, an ordinary figure of short stature and silvered-brown hair, scruff developed on his face. He is not on edge, nor is he quite as stooped and downtrodden as many of the riffraff who mill around him to collect food from the cafeteria, find a corner to sleep, go to the bathroom or collect more water to clean their hands in. For those that don't recognise him, which seems to be the vast majority, his intention could be any one of these things as he moves through the building, fingertips touching doors to creak them open.

For those that do— such conclusions are less obvious.

The form moving in the opposite direction through the building is one that moves gingerly, thanks to the jagged lacerations sutured together in his back. Jameson Jones has stopped by the Centre to get the wound treated and get a refill of antibiotics, as well as pick up supplies for some injured victims of the Dome and its violence either too far away and too injured to get to the Center, already packed with those with nowhere else to go.

As he turns a corner, he finds himself with a collision path with Valentin, though still several feet away. Even through the dim light, there is something familiar about the man's shape. JJ pulls his gun and his flashlight from his pockets swiftly, aiming the former even as the beam of the latter confirms his hunch. "Stop or I'll fucking shoot," he growls, feet moving quickly to make up the space between the two, the gun pointing at Valentin's head as his flashlight gets stowed. His free hand opens the door nearest to the two of them, a supply closet. A jerk of JJ's head indicates to Valentin. Get inside.

Odessa, having actually been playing the role of doctor, strolls out of the pharmacy supply and stops short when she sees FRONTLINE Boy with his gun out. And who his gun is on. She bears similar injuries to JJ, having been caught in the same explosion he was - however she managed to dial down the severity of it with her ability.

Heels sound a clipped staccato on the tiled hall as Odessa jogs to catch up to the two men. "Don't do anything foolish," she murmurs to JJ. To Valentin, she offers an insincere smile. "I mean, more foolish than strolling in here after you sent in and lost six men."

Valentin stops as soon as the flashlight plants itself on him, tension an instant thing when attention sets its eye on him, and he blinks wide-eyedly towards the figure behind the light. And the gun hovering above it, gripped in capable hands. His expression is one of interested affability, his eyebrows high and curved, mouth relaxed, and when his steel-blue stare darts off towards the door in the wall, JJ doesn't get the luxury of knowin whether Michal would have instantly obeyed when Odessa's voice rings out and distracts him.

His smile is a wicked one, in that it seems to play onto his face as naturally as a jackal grin or a shark bite — like it isn't meant to communicate anything friendly. It's just the way his mouth is.

"Foolish but successful — Doctor Knutson, such a pleasure. Will the lady be joining us?" He gestures for the door. To the supply closet.

JJ's eyes narrow at Odessa's voice telling him not to be foolish, but he doesn't take his eyes off of Valentin, nor does the barrel of his gun move from its intended target — the Slovak's head.

"Clear the closet, Doctor. Make sure there's nothing he can use as a weapon, would you? We're going to have a chat with our friend here, see what he can tell us about a few things."

His head tips slightly, green eyes cold and calculating as he studies the other man's face. "You come here alone?" A slight angling of his head toward Odessa suggests the next is directed at her. "We got any telepaths or lie detectory people here that can assist in a little interrogation of our pal here?"

"So good to see you again, Michal. It's Price these days. My parents' name, not my nursemaid's anymore." Odessa offers as a proper greeting, correcting the use of her former last name. She wrinkles her nose faintly at being ordered to clear the closet, but she does it. In the blink of an eye, because she's going to save herself the indignity of being watched completing such a menial task. "Gentlemen," she says sweetly, gesturing for them to precede her inside of… the closet.

She should have suggested Exam Three. "I have no telepaths at my disposal. We'll have to do this the old fashioned way." Odessa keeps her eye on Valentin, one hand sliding comfortably into the pocket of her lab coat. It may be dappled in blood, therefore leaving her looking something of a mad doctor, but it isn't as though she can justify doing laundry for the sake of looking pleasant.

Standing still and thoughtful for a few moments, Valentin considers his options — and then with the slow-handed movements of someone who is being held at gunpoint, he opens his coat. Extracts his pistol. The clip goes clattering to the ground with a press of his finger, but he keeps the empty pistol on hand — unless, of course, it's taken from him. "Is the old fashioned way a nice conversation?" he enquires, over a shoulder — he's turning, headed into the dark mouth of the closet, empty hand spread in a sort of shrugging gesture.

"I am alone, mister, but aren't we all?"

Gentlemanly, he loosens his scarf some, letting it drape loose around his neck as he enters the rectangular supply closet. "I have information. I do not mind being a prisoner, but if you make me into an enemy, I think you will regret it. Ask Price."

JJ watches the slow gesture with narrowed green eyes, then nods his appreciation as the gun is emptied. He kicks the clip to the corner farthest from Valentin, and follows the man into the supply room.

"Information," he begins, "is useful. It might be good enough to keep you alive. We'll see. Just what sort of information do you have, and what do you expect in exchange for it?"

As an afterthought, JJ adds, "Aside from your life and relative health, I mean?"

Price gasps. "Is that for me? How thoughtful." Yes, Valentin is relieved of his gun, with a bright smile even. "Nice conversation? Don't tell me you never believed any of the rumours about me." Then, Odessa sighs, "That would only be fair. I never did believe any of the rumours about you. And what happened to your partner. The thanks I get for giving the benefit of the doubt." Her tongue clicks against the back of her teeth, chiding.

Inside the closet, Odessa leans against the door frame, then stiffens a moment, and shifts her position to rest her shoulder there instead, rather than her back. Muscles twinge, stitches sting. It doesn't show on her face.

"You weren't so interested in offering information before," Odessa drawls lazily. She inspects the nails of one hand as though they may be more interesting than what he might have to share with them. The other hand is coiled around the handle of the gun, though her finger doesn't loop around the trigger.

His hands curl inwards, to his chest. Moi? Not interested in giving information? Surely you jest. "I am a man of action, it is true. In a world of terrible inaction, I think." Valentin steps back, to lean against shelving, the semi-light of the enclosed space dealing enough illumination that they can see the way his gaze switch from one to the other — more uncertainty suddenly striking genuine in his schooled expression. "I am not really the one you want in a closet at your mercy.

"You would prefer, I think, to have Malcolm Pitt. The forcefield maker that will fall into the hands of Humanis First if you act irrationally tonight. May I smoke?"

"You don't want to give him to them!" JJ says suddenly, the coolness gone, replaced by ire and earnest fear. "You don't know what will happen if they hurt him, if they kill him. That thing, it needs to be brought down, not just cut off completely. God knows what will happen if it does. We need him, and we need him alive and conscious and not hurt, and I don't trust your men,"

or you is not spoken —

"to handle him with that in mind!" Because JJ is clearly the voice of objective reason.

That seems to occur belatedly to the young man as he steps back, not realizing he'd reached out to grab the other man's sleeve in his impassioned plea. "How do you know who it is? Where can we find him? Tell us what we need to know, and maybe we can all get out of here alive," he says, reining in his emotions a little tighter, cheeks coloring a touch as he glances at Odessa. Can he smoke? He looks upward for a smoke detector.

Even as JJ begins to panic, Odessa remains cool. And so her attention shifts to the FRONTLINE officer, even if her posture remains the same. "Calm down, Jones." And he does, thankfully. When he looks to her in askance, defers to her in the matter of Valentin's request, she responds firmly, "No."

It might normally be followed up with an incredulous look, or a remark about how this is a fuckin' hospital! But instead, Odessa's gaze only holds wary disdain. A brow hikes upward over her patched-over eye. "It's terrible convenient that you're in possession of this information now that people know what your game is and want you dead. You're so lucky that we seem to need you alive to avoid absolute calamity."

A slow grin spreads across the other former Company woman's face. Appreciative, and predatory. "I like your style." Odessa even has a chuckle for that. Like-minded individuals are a delight. "I assume what's in this for you is protection from the horde of people you've managed to make enemies of?"

"Is convenience such a bad thing? I thought perhaps it would be appreciated. This month has been so long."

And judging by some of the wearier shadows in the lines of his face, Valentin may feel it too. The dome is a pressure cooker, and everyone gets a share of the heat — even those that terrorise through radio and never pull the triggers. His eyes are as cold as diamonds when his sleeve is gripped by one of them, disgust shown in his rigid posture, more tension than when he had a gun pointed for his head. He manages not to make a show of smoothing out the wrinkles.

His head twitches to the left. Yes and no. "I made deals with devils. The government, specifically. They would do as directed with the contractors as long as I could deliver to them Pitt. Georgia Mayes, of the Evo Affairs department— she is of Humanis First inclination, but I do not trust her as well as I could walk out of this damnable field right now, and neither should you."

He addresses Odessa, then, rather than JJ. "You know, Price. You know what they will do with people like you. Use them, to no one's advantage."

That he doesn't immediately tell them where Pitt is is indicative of not knowing. Or retaining his Ace.

At Mayes' name, JJ's eyes narrow, a sharp breath sucked through teeth. "Who is this Pitt? Who's he working for, that he put this thing up? I know it wasn't all his idea — whatever he's doing, he … he feels unsure about it. He feels guilty about it." This is said more to Odessa, a head tip inclined in her direction though JJ's eyes and his gun stay trained on Valentin.

"Can you get in contact with him? The faster we find him — the better for all of us. And I'm not kidding when I say if your guys kill him, it could be fucking bad news. That thing — if you don't know how his power works, it could be really dangerous if he's suddenly taken out. Even just negating him could be a problem. We need him to control it. We need to negotiate with him or let him think he has a chance of getting out alive."

That information sets Odessa to bristling. They're supposed to be on the same team now, Price and Mayes. And it should not surprise her that they aren't, and perhaps it even doesn't. But what she lacks in surprise, she makes up for with ire and anger in the face of confirmation. "You're right," she admits, not grudgingly. "She'll string you up as your men will string up Pitt. Yours is a face the media would love to blame."

Singular cobalt stare flits back and forth easily between law man and terrorist. Though she tilts her head to indicate she's listening intently to the former, Odessa doesn't dare take her eye from the latter for very long. It's Valentin she addresses first. "And you would have me be willingly used to your benefit? Mm?" To JJ, she offers assurance. "We'll take care of Pitt one way or the other. He's one of us."

"He needs the black drug to take down the forcefield." Impatience sets in around Valentin's shoulders, but he keeps his strangely accented voice schooled, neutral, conversational. "Negation will do nothing. Killing him will do nothing. Negotiating will do nothing because he does not have the power to tame the thing he has created. Give him the drug and he will end this. But then he needs to die." And after that exchange, he is definitely talking to Odessa.

Like he trusts her to be like minded. "I have Refrain. I have negation canisters. Some medications. Explosives. Three passports. I do not have amp. But do you know what building I think of that does have it?"

"If we find the drug, and if we help you get it to him, it's not up to you to decide if he lives or dies," JJ says through gritted teeth. "He may have killed people with this thing, but that could have been the end of the blood loss. No one had to die inside. No one. And yet."

He turns to look at Odessa, then back to Valentin. "If we give you the drug, he's ours to deal with. Not yours."

"Do you have any idea how many times I've tried to secure doses of Amphodynamine?" Judging from the roll of her eye skyward and the disgusted curl to Odessa's lips, too many is the answer to that. "It can't get back around that I helped to steal it." And when she says this, her gaze is square on Jones. Serious, and a little pleading. She has a very real fear of winding up in a box if news reaches the Institute that she got her hands on Amp, for all the reactions to the times that she's tried to go through the proper channels to obtain it in the past.

Odessa might wink when Valentin appeals to her sensibilities in regards to the fate of Malcolm Pitt, but… The effect is somewhat lost in that it resembles a blink. Or perhaps it wasn't intended at all. And so he only gets a subtle lift of her chin, an upward tick of her mouth. "We'll discuss it, you and I," she tells JJ.

"Don't be stupid," is all Valentin can say, a steely stare fixed on JJ. It had not been missed, this young man's certainty behind how guilty Malcolm had felt, and you learn to pick up on these cues in easy paranoia and suspicion — that and the young man's FRONTLINE alliance might be enough for wariness to set in. "If you think what has happened to this Island and the people on it is bad, you will have no idea what will happen when the government has this power in their more careful, capable hands — and they will not stop, looking for him, if he is alive."

He would know. "I want a guarantee that you will work towards my freedom, that you will not hand me to the authorities here, and that you will— " He pauses, then allows for a smile. "Consider my proposal for Pitt's execution. If none of these things happen, I will not work with you. You will kill me here, in this closet, or have me arrested. The rest of Humanis First will murder Pitt before you ever find him.

"I believe they are looking for him now."

The young man bristles visibly at being called stupid. "I do have an idea, but I don't think that having an ability that could be dangerous in the government's hands is a good enough reason to kill someone," he mutters, tension tensing the muscles around his eyes. He shakes his head in a jerky motion before it becomes a more confident nod.

"Fine. We'll work toward your freedom, and we'll consider your proposal." There's no promises in the words, and he knows Valentin knows as much. "If we can get that dome taken down, if you get us to him before your people find him. And if you give us any proof you have on Mayes being one of you."

JJ's green eyes flicker to Odessa, as if to ask if she has any terms she'd like to lay on the table, before turning them back to Valentin, surveying his face for the other man's reactions.

Well, shit. FRONTLINE Boy is somewhat on board with all of this. Colour Odessa Price impressed. "I'm in." Not just halfway, she throws her full support behind Valentin. It was never a difficult decision.

Though, when one can spend as much time as needed deliberating (and recollecting discarded clips of bullets to reload into guns), perhaps it makes all decisions look effortlessly made. "And if our paths ever cross again, perhaps you help me live to fight another day." I save your ass, you save mine. It seems a fair exchange to Odessa.

The corner of Valentin's mouth goes up in half-smile, and he glances around the closet. This seems safe enough as anything.

And so he sits down, legs folding a little stiffly, Buddha style, and shuffling so as to get comfortable in the space made into his cell so promptly — seemingly a mutual decision, and off the beaten trail enough that maybe he won't get kicked around by Retrievers or PMCs, god willing. Relaxed enough, he sends a blue-eyed glance upwards, a look up and down of JJ, a more careful look towards his fellow ex-Company colleague.

"I need a phone."

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